In Preparation for World Cup Russia is Having a Makeover to Beautify Scenes for Footballers

Published May 29th, 2018 - 05:23 GMT
(AFP/ File)
(AFP/ File)

Russians are being banned from looking out of the windows of their flats and forbidden to use their balconies during the World Cup.

If they live in the same town as a training facility, they are being made to sign documents vowing not to film players - or even 'observe' passing convoys linked to the football festival.

In Kaliningrad - where England play next month - banners have been erected over the broken glass windows of a disused factory to 'beautify' the city's industrial dereliction.

They show 'Provence-style windows', complete with pink flowers.

In Rostov-on-Don, posters now depict happy locals waving from windows of run-down buildings as a massive sprucing-up exercise is underway.

Vladimir Putin's regional apparatchiks have been accused of turning World Cup sites into modern-day Potemkin villages - a reference to the way tsarist officials allegedly painted scenes on Catherine the Great's route so that she was unaware of the abject poverty of her peasants.

Locals in Gelendzhik, a Black Sea resort where Iceland and Sweden will have training facilities, are in shock after being ordered to sign legally-binding pledges not to go on their balconies or 'observe' from their windows.

If they disobey there are fears that could face sanctions from the FSB security service or the police.

The draconian Soviet-style curbs are similar to demands made of residents who live along routes where Vladimir Putin's motorcade is due to travel.

'But we're talking about the Iceland football team - not our president,' said one pensioner.

'I've been banned from going out on my balcony for a cigarette.'

The curbs are not merely for residents whose flats directly overlook training facilities - but many others in the resort with a 55,000 population.

Balconies are seen as a luxury by many Russians who still live in cramped Soviet-era high rise flats.

Other World Cup venues will do the same, it is believed.

England's training base is near St Petersburg, Putin's home city.

In Gelendzhik residents were told 'it will be strictly prohibited to film team members, including during the training sessions, to go out to the balconies (and) to observe (those connected with a World Cup team).

The restrictions have sparked an outcry on social media.

'Don't be surprised when the FSB breaks in and pin your face down to the floor if you use your balcony'. website mocked the French scenes on an old 19th century German- built factory in Kaliningrad, where England play Belgium on 28 June.

Urban activist Evgeny Mosienko said: 'It is beautiful - I'm joking.

'The city administration forced the owner to pay for this Potemkin-style trash.

'For the sake of the World Cup.'

Only windows facing the route to be used by players and World Cup officials have been improved - not the back of the factory.

In Rostov, officials have admitted putting up 250 banners on shabby buildings.

Vitaly Kushnaryov, the head of Rostov city administration, said: 'The historical centre of the city is full of ruined and rundown buildings. We have to work hard before the World Cup.'

In Samara, another World Cup venue, historic wooden houses have been given a coat of paint.

In Ekaterinburg, an old jail was given a makeover.

Barbed wire was removed, and a fence 'renovated'.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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